The Art of Meditation

Quick Escapes to Focus Your Mind and Soothe Away Stress

If you’re searching for a cure for stress and anxiety, look no further than your own mind. The calming mental practice of meditation is a powerful tool; practiced regularly, it can induce a state of awareness, serenity and well-being.

The following simple brain games will enable you to flex your mental muscles, improve your concentration and revive your spirit. This is what total fitness is all about.

If you have never meditated before, here are tips to get you started:
• Find a place you can be comfortable, either sitting or lying down.
• Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV and take the phone off the hook.
• Close your eyes.
• Breathe slowly, expanding your rib cage, allowing the air to fill your belly; don’t breathe shallowly from your chest.

10-Minute Meditation

First, get comfortable, either seated or lying down, and close your eyes. As you begin to breathe rhythmically, imagine your body relaxing. Inhale fresh, clean oxygen; exhale negativity and tension out. With each breath, imagine your entire body letting go. If you have trouble staying centered, picture a beautiful place, such as a beach, to focus your mind. Imagine the smell of the air and water, feel the warmth of the sun and the sand around your body. Now begin with your feet: Clench your toes and release them a few times, then let them relax. Move up your body in the same fashion—tense and release your legs, hips, hands, arms, spine, chest and neck. Let the tension melt from between your eyes and soften your mouth. If you notice any particular knots of tension, “breathe” into these spots as you exhale, allowing them to unwind. Once your body is completely relaxed, you’ll notice it’s easier to quiet the mental chatter that comes with constant stimuli and tension. Rouse yourself out of this space slowly; it’s a place you’ll want to return to again and again.

Less Than 10

One-minute respites and five-minute breaks

Use these easy techniques to get a quick energy boost, focus your mind and release stress.

Say “om”: Chant a mantra (such as “om” or another repetitive word or phrase) to quiet your mind and get you focused in the zone.
Breathe easy: Inhale and exhale through your nose, creating a rhythmic pattern that lengthens progressively. Inhale for four counts, exhale for four counts; then inhale for five counts, exhale for five counts, and so on.
Move and repeat: Along with your breathing, repetitive movement like walking, jogging, swimming or t’ai chi can be used to induce a meditative state.

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